Algeria. The amnesty issued by President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika for militant Islamists in the summer of 1999
expired on January 13. According to official sources, at
that time 1,500 Islamists had laid down their weapons.
However, only one active guerrilla group had joined the
offer. It was AIS (Armée Islamique du Salut, Islamic Rescue
Army), the military branch of the Forbidden FIS (Front
Islamique du Salut, Islamic Rescue Front), whose leadership
announced January 5 that the organization would be
disbanded. According to reports, many of the members would
instead join the country's armed forces to fight the armed
groups GIA (Groupe Islamique Armée) and Da'wa wal Jihad
(Call and Fight).
COUNTRYAAH, violence continued in 2000. Over six weeks, for example,
over 200 people were killed. The vast majority were
civilians, many of them brutally murdered by cutting their
throats from ear to ear. In November, the human rights
organization Amnesty International called on the Algerian
government to revoke the amnesty and bring those suspected
of being involved in massacres to trial, whether they are
Islamists or members of the security forces.
Algeria's relationship with Europe improved during the
year. In June, Bouteflika visited France, a country that no
Algerian head of state had visited since 1962. In July,
Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar visited Algeria in
the company of representatives of Spanish large companies.
In August, Bouteflika appointed a new prime minister,
former Justice Minister Ali Benflis. Benflis, considered one
of the president's closest advisers, replaced Ahmad
Benbituur, who had taken office in December 1999. Bouteflika
and Benflis appointed a new government on August 26.
Approximately 2,000 refugees from sub-Saharan countries
lived for several months in very difficult conditions in
camps on the border between Morocco and Algeria. Their hope
was to get to Europe, but in late September Algeria sent
them back to their home countries.